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Ten Essentials for the First-Time Horse Owner

Congratulations, you bought your first horse, now what? Here are a few must-haves to get your horsekeeping off to a good start.

There are numerous items, which are considered “essential” when owning a horse. Items, which are imperative to working with a horse and making progress in training.

The horse has basic needs, which are required on a daily basis, along with items needed to work with the horse.


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Halters for Horses

Image - Horse Halter
Horse Halter

A halter is the most important accessory. Whether the halter is leather, nylon or a rope halter is up to the individual. However, certain types of halters are traditional in the show ring.

Halters generally come in pony, cob, horse, and draft sizes; the halter should be adjusted to fit snugly but comfortably on the horse’s head. It is a good idea to have an extra halter in case the first one breaks.

Lead Shanks for Horses

The lead shank snaps onto the halter’s noseband to allow the owner to lead the horse around. Rope shanks are easiest on the hands and can double as cross-ties.

However, nylon and leather leads with brass chains are preferred in the show ring. Again, it is wise to have extras in case one break or gets lost.

image- brown horse with plastic bucket
Brown Horse with Plastic Bucket

Horse Buckets and Feed Tubs

Buckets are needed to feed the horse and carry feed and water around the barn. They can be bought in a variety of sizes and shape depending on the size of the horse and its intended purpose.

Plastic and rubber buckets are the preferred types, although they can also be found in other materials. Buckets are easily attached to walls and fences using eye hooks and double-ended snaps.

Horse Grooming Kit

Image - Horse Grooming Kit
Horse Grooming Kit

Grooming kits are essential for maintaining a healthy coat. Fill a tote box with:

  • A rubber curry comb to massage the horse’s skin and loosen dirt, hair, and scurf.
  • A medium-stiff dandy brush to whisk away the dirt and scurf.
  • A stiff mud brush to remove heavy, dried mud.
  • A soft-bristled body or finishing brush to groom sensitive, bony areas and bring out an overall shine.
  • A rub rag to further polish the horse’s coat.
  • A mane comb or hairbrush for combing out tangles in the mane and tail.
  • A hoof pick to extract manure and stones from the feet.
  • Hoof ointment or a dressing to condition and polish the hooves.
  • Pair of scissors to trim the fetlocks and tail.
  • Sponges to clean the nose, eyes, sheath, udder and under the tail.
  • Bottle of fly spray to protect your horse from bugs.

First Aid Kit for Horses

image - First Aid Kit for Horses
First Aid Kit for Horses

Because accidents do happen in the stall or out in the pasture, purchasing a pre-packaged kit or assembling a kit is good horse care.

Ask your veterinarian about adding a stethoscope and a basic anti-inflammatory medication to the kit. Other items, which should be included are:

  • Veterinarian thermometer.
  • Jar of petroleum jelly.
  • Jar of topical antibiotic cream.
  • Bottle of antibacterial soap.
  • A few ace bandages.
  • Roll of adhesive tape.
  • Sterile gauze sponges and pads.
  • One or two “instant” chemical ice packs.
  • Pair of tweezers.
  • Pair of scissors.
  • Bottle of hydrogen peroxide.
  • Roll of absorbent “practical cotton”.

Horse Saddle

Image - Horse Saddle Western
Horse Saddle Western

Whether riding Western or English, look for a saddle, which fits the rider, and horse properly. The saddle includes the girth/cinch, stirrup leathers for English and stirrups for Western. This purchase is one, which should be researched in depth before choosing a saddle.

Look for quality; check that the stirrup leathers are strong and well stitched, the stirrups for western should be wide enough for the rider’s feet, and the girth needs to fit around the barrel of the horse.

If possible, talk to a “saddle fitter” and learn how to make a pattern of the horse’s back to using when choosing a saddle. A saddle pad is also needed. Preferably, one that is machine-washable.

Horse Bridle and Bit

Like the saddle, quality materials and workmanship are important. Choose the correct type of bridle, bit, and reins for the discipline of riding.

It is very important to measure the horse’s mouth before choosing the size of bit, an improperly fitted bit can hurt and cause discipline problems with the horse. Many riders need several bridles: a plain bridle for every day, and a fancier leather bridle for show.

Leather Cleaning Supplies for Horse Tack

Purchase a leather cleaner, sponges, and terry cloth towels to periodically clean all the leather tack. This will keep it in good condition and help it to last longer.

Choices for supplies include glycerin and castle soap, neatsfoot oil, and newer products, which clean, condition, and waterproof the tack all in one-step.

Horse Stall Cleaning Equipment

A horse that spend part of the day inside will need the stall mucked out. A pitchfork, rake, shovel, and muck basket or wheelbarrow will do the job to clean out any manure and wet bedding.

Deposit the manure and wet bedding into the muck basket or wheelbarrow and empty it into the manure pile, which should be quite a distance from the barn and paddocks to prevent fly problems. The owner should also clean the paddock from time to time to prevent infestations of flies and worms.

Horse Clothing

At times, it is necessary to blanket the horse. Depending on the season and whether or not the horse is clipped. A lightweight stable sheet, a heavier stable blanket, and a turnout sheet may all need to be used.

Consider polo bandages and/or boots to protect and support the horse’s legs during exercise, turnout, or transporting. A fly mask is also useful in warm weather to prevent insects from irritating the horse’s eyes.

Image - Horse Blanket
Horse Blanket

These items are just a few of the essential supplies an owner will need for the horse. Depending on the riding discipline, environment, and location the owner should consult another rider who is experienced for further advice.

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